I don’t know about you, but I love me some totally random facts! And even more so, I love me a totally random battle that not many people have heard about! So today, we are going to look at what many say is the actual first battle of the War Between the States!
1| Where and When. This battle took place on June 10th, 1861, 160 years ago! The battle took place in Big Bethel Virginia and is one of the lesser-known battles of the war.
2| It All Happened Here. Many people refer to either Ft. Sumter or First Manassas when talking of the first battle of the War Between the States. But Big Bethel is actually the first.
3| Looking at the Numbers… As with most battles of the war, the Confederate Soldiers were outnumbered. They had under 1,500 men while the Union invaders had around 3,500. But you know us, that makes the odds about even! *halo*
4| The Men Behind the Moment. Two lesser-known Generals were in command of the opposing armies. For the federals, Brigadier General Ebenezer W. Peirce led them into battle. For the Confederacy, it was Colonel John B. Magruder.
5| Confederate Gold Star Family. This battle saw the death of the very first Confederate soldier in the field. Private Henry Wyatt was the sole Confederate soldier killed in the battle, the only fatality of 8 Southern soldiers injured.
6| How did he Die? Being the first enlisted casualty of battle, it’s no wonder we know how it happened. Colonel D. H. Hill requested 4 volunteers to set fire to a house federal troops had commandeered and were using to pin down the Southern troops with their firepower. Henry was one of them. They never made it to the house, and Henry died in the line of fire.
7| The Fate of the House. After Henry’s death, the volunteers were recalled and the house was taken out by artillery fire.
8| Why Here? Confederate Forces hoped to dislodge troops from Ft. Monroe, reclaiming it for the Confederacy. Unfortunately, the same fort where Custis Lee (Robert E. Lee’s son) was born at remained the only Southern Fort in Virginia to remain in federal control through the entire war.
9| Tar Heel Legacy. North Carolina has often been known as the state that was “First at Big Bethel and Last at Palmito Ranch.” We lost more soldiers than any other state and sent the most men to the Confederate Army. As usual, we had a big hand in the events at the battle of Big Bethel.
10| The Victorious Victors *Halo* The Confederacy of course. They couldn’t let the first battle at home be won by the opposing army!
Have you heard of this battle before today? Is this the first time? I encourage you to do some research and share some of your findings in the comments below!
Have a Blessed Day and God Bless America!
This series has seriously got swept under the rug! It’s time for a new episode, and today’s is on Cold Harbor! I hope you enjoy!
1| Fickle Federals. The command of Col. Elisha Strong Kellogg couldn’t decide what they thought of him. One moment, they would be complaining he was too strict, and the next, they would be pooling their resources to get him a better horse! Col. Kellogg’s first and last fight would be the opening day of Cold Harbor.
2| Bloodiest? Many battles of the War Between the States claim some sort of “Bloodiest” title, and Cold Harbor (May 31st-June 12th, 1864) is no exception. Its claim to fame is in have the bloodiest single hour of the entire war. Nearly 7,000 federal troops fell in that space, most, it is claimed, within 10 minutes! (Source: HistoryNet)
3| A New Weapon. While some might not think of it as such, the spade was the real weapon of the Battle of Cold Harbor. The Confederates spent hours digging trenches that stood chest-deep, with head logs to shield their heads, leaving a slit for them to fire from. The federals never stood a chance.
4| Go Back! My favorite story from Cold Harbor is that of a flag bearer in the Union army. He boldly marched forward, zoned in on the Confederate lines, heedless of the fact that he was the only man left from his company advancing; the others had fallen in the fight. Southern troops ceased fire and shouted for him to turn around, unwilling to knowingly shoot an unarmed man. When he realized he was alone, he calmly stood at attention, saluted smartly to his enemies, did an about-face, and withdrew. The Confederates honored him with a Rebel Yell and thunderous applause.
5| Victory No Matter the Cost. Grant didn’t care about wasting time getting ready. He threw tired, travel-weary men straight into the fight at Cold Harbor and ordered a multitude of deadly charges on their fortified works, reminiscent of the Federals’ foolish charges at Fredericksburg and the Confederates’ at Pickett’s Charge.
6| The Only Union Successes. Grant only had two victories over the battle of Cold Harbor. Confederate troops lost ground the first day, and on the second day of fighting, they lost nearly 200 men prisoner to General Francis Barlow. Confederate losses stood at 788 killed, 3, 376 wounded, and 1,123 missing or captured for a total of 5,287 men. Federal Casualty rates were much higher, with 1,845 killed, 9,077 wounded, and 1,816 missing or captured for a total of 12,738.
7| Wrong Guys! Lines were so tangled during this particular campaign (the Overland Campaign) that multiple times during the fighting, officers of one side could successfully, though unintentionally, give orders to men of the opposite side and be obeyed! And because of several visibility issues, one Confederate officer watered his horse very close to a group of federal soldiers who paid him no heed!
8| What’s in a Name? Cold Harbor was named after a tavern in the area that wouldn’t serve hot meals. It was neither cold nor anywhere near the water.
9| A New Nickname. Following multiple senseless and fruitless charges, Grant was no longer touted as Unconditional Surrender Grant, but Butcher Grant.
10| Stubborn as a Mule. Grant waited for days to officially admit defeat on the field by calling for an official truce. He didn’t want to accept yet another failure to his superior on the field, Robert E. Lee. His pride cost many disabled wounded their lives.
And as usual, here is an excerpt from my Series from the Battle of Cold Harbor!
From Chapter 22 "Cold Harbor"
Jordan surveyed the ingenious trenches built during the day of silence. They were deep enough to conceal most of a soldier’s body. Forked branches anchored into the mounds to hold a “head log,” gave the Confederate forces full protection. The Union troops wouldn’t have time to aim between the headspace.
That night it rained cats and dogs. Jordan cramped together with his fellow soldiers in small tents, tried to keep dry. The longer the war lasted, the tinier the replacement tents got. Economizing, some called it.
From the next tent came fiddle music, slow and gentle. Jordan frowned as he drifted back to sleep, hearing the last verse in his mind…
We’ve been fighting today on the old campground.
Many are lying near.
Some are dead, some are dying.
Many are in tears.
Many are the hearts that are weary tonight,
Wishing for the war to cease.
Many are the hearts looking for the right,
To see the dawn of peace.
Dying tonight, dying tonight.
Dying on the old campground.
June 3rd, 1864
Cold Harbor, Va.
June 3rd was hot and muggy. Southern soldiers shed their coats and jackets, opting to fight in their shirt sleeves. Richard checked the line of men. They leaned up against their trenches, rifles ready and fingers on the trigger.
“They’re coming,” Burdy whispered to him.
Richard nodded, squinting at the regimental colors.
“There are enough men here, put your unit farther down the line,” an officer shouted to Richard.
The men in Richard’s rag-tag unit hurried down the line, loading their pistols and checking their sabers as they went.
The flank was the weakest link in the Confederate lines. Union Gen. Francis Barlow knew this and decided this would be the perfect place to advance his military career. He organized his men and ordered the attack.
No sooner had the 32:7 Boys arrived than Federals raced out of the woods. Burdy took a step back, stunned at the sudden appearance of the enemy, shouting like banshees. “Get back!” Titus ordered, pushing the boy behind him.
It was a battle like Burdy had never seen before. He stood rooted to the ground, blinking in disbelief. The Union soldiers seemed like beasts rather than humans to the lad. They beat Confederate soldiers to the ground with their rifles, then using the bayonet to finish the job. Some were taken prisoner.
 Overly ambitious, Francis Channing Barlow was young, but eager. He started out as a lieutenant and made his way up to Brevet Major General.
And to find out more, you'll have to buy the book! :)
That’s it for now! God Bless!
Soldier Life || The Major || Episode 11
Hey Y’all, and welcome to this month’s History post! It’s so exciting to be getting back to this series finally! Per usual, I will give my disclaimer. I am by no means a history/military expert. The posts are a sampling of information on a select topic, gathering information in one place that I wish I hadn’t had to hunt and peck for…or that I wish I’d known before writing on the subject! These posts are currently focusing on the ranks of soldiers from the War Between the states. You can view the previous Episode here, and the first episode here. You may access all of them by going to my Archives Page and scrolling down to History>The War Between the States. These posts are non-biased and apply to both armies. There, with that out of the way, let’s get cracking!
According to the North Carolina Museum of History, “A major was third in command of an infantry, cavalry, or artillery regiment and assisted the colonel in administrative and combat duties. In battle, an infantry major led the regimental attack, positioning himself at the front with the color guard. If the colonel and the lieutenant colonel were killed or wounded, the major took command of the regiment.”
The duties required of a Major are not as numerous as those above or below him, so to some, this may seem like he gets a smooth ride. We can be sure that was not the case, however. The Major was to the Colonel, what the Second Lieutenant is to the Captain, so he not only needed to be familiar with his duties but that of the Colonel as well in the event the Colonel was incapacitated. And as with the Lieutenant, the Major is the right hand to the Colonel.
Majors were generally entrusted with a command of more than one company, but less than a regiment. It could vary, but usually, two companies made up his command. The Major rarely gave commands of his own on the field, unless the Colonel was injured or killed. His job was to convey orders from the colonel and to assist in troop alignments on the field.
…And aside from some lengthy descriptions on how he is to take over for the colonel and how he could be court-martialed, I couldn’t find very much information on Majors 😊 While it doesn’t look like much, being an assistant to a Colonel is a full-time job. Once I get together the information about the Colonel’s duties, I’m sure we will see even more clearly just how much the Major did.
That’s all I have for you today! Sorry this post is so short, but hopefully, we will make up for it next time! Have a blessed day!
10 Totally Random Facts About…Second Manassas! // A History Post +An Excerpt from Our Heritage to Save!
At last, I have returned to this beloved series after…4 months! Wow…that’s a long time…
Anyway, today I am doing a post on the Battle of Manassas Junction, Virginia! But Ryana Lynn, you might say, You’ve already done a post on Manassas Junction! And you would be quite right! Here’s a link to my first post! But today, we are looking at the SECOND battle that took place in that unfortunate area. Unfortunate because who really wants to have ONE battle fought in their backyard, let alone TWO? And hang around at the end of the post for a tiny excerpt from my book, Our Heritage to Save, to learn an additional fact about the Battle!
1. Lightning Strikes Twice. Yep, people often say it doesn’t but it has happened…anyway… Second Manassas (Or Second Bull Run, if you’re from the northern side of the Mason/Dixon 😉) was fought on the same ground as the first major battle of the War Between the States, almost a year later! And it lasted a little longer too, beginning on August 28th and ending on the 30th.
2. Stonewall was Here! But unlike the first battle, where his was one of the last on the field, Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson’s was the first command to arrive at Second Manassas…3 days early!
3. Same song, second verse. After the second battle I suppose the federal army decided it would be a bad idea to fight here again; they lost both battles fought at Manassas Junction to the Confederate Army.
4. Immortalized in Song. There is a hilarious song, written and sung by southerners, that goes through the laundry list of men who Lincoln put in charge of his Grand Army of the Potomac. (There were so many, it’s not even funny!) The commander for the Manassas Campaign was Gen. John Pope. The song is written as if it’s union soldiers singing it, making it even funnier to the Southern population. Pope and the Battle of Manassas were featured in the lyrics like this:
Then said Lincoln unto Pope, “You can make the trip I hope,
I will save the Universal Yankee Nation,
To make sure of no defeat, I’ll leave no lines of retreat,
And I’ll issue a famous proclamation.”
But the same dreaded Jackson, This fellow laid his whacks,
And made him by compulsion a seceder.
And Pope took rapid flight from Manassas’ Second fight,
‘Twas his very last appearance as a leader.
But to be fair, the southern author was kind to Pope in the chorus…
Then pull off your overcoat and roll up your sleeves,
For Stonewall is a hard road to travel;
Pope did his very best but was evidently sold,
For Richmond is a hard road to travel, I am told!
5. A New Commander. The federals weren’t the only ones with a different commanding general when Second Manassas rolled around. Instead of Joseph Johnston commanding Southern forces, General Lee was in charge. But the results were the same: Southern Victory!
6. Old Stomping Grounds. Stonewall’s first mission upon arriving at Manassas Junction was to destroy the Union supply depot there. After fulfilling this duty, Stonewall set about making camp…near to the very place where he had first earned the nickname Stonewall (though he always insisted the name belonged to the brigade who had fought with him that day).
7. Don’t Count your Eggs Until They Are Laid. During the fight, U.S. General Pope informed Lincoln that the victory was the Union. NEVER announce victory before you actually have it…you’ll have to eat your words…
8. Strike while the Iron is Hot! Stonewall believed in action. He was not one to sit around and wait for the enemy to attack him. Second Manassas showed that very well. Pope knew he was in the area, due to a previous fight with another command. But his men got within a few hundred yards of Stonewall and didn’t even see him until Jackson’s artillery opened fire on them.
9. It’s not the Size that counts. Jackson and his troops were outnumbered two to one during the battle. In fact, multiple times, the federals broke their lines. But in spite of being outmanned, Jackson’s men always counterattacked and plugged the holes. And it paid off; Longstreet reinforced them, giving them desperately needed man power to ultimately carry the battle.
10. According to the Numbers… There are a lot of similarities between the two Battles of Manassas Junction. But the numbers are not part of that. Around 63,000 federal and 55,000 Confederates were engaged in the second battle, almost but not quite double their forces from the first battle. At First Manassas, 2,896 federals were listed as casualties (mostly injured); at Second Manassas, their numbers were 13,826. The Confederates listed 1,982 casualties (again mostly injured) at the first battle. Those numbers jumped to 8,353 at the second battle. (Numbers taken from A Pocket History of the Civil War by Martin F. Graham, ©2011 by the author, All Rights Reserved)
And now…for the excerpt…which happens to spotlight one of my favorite facts about this battle!
From Chapter 22: He Fixed It, Our Heritage to Save
“Believe it, Joe. We’re out of ammo!” The young Southern soldier’s face was white with anxiety. “We just used our last two rounds. What are we gonna do?”
“Rocks!” someone yelled. “Use the rocks!” The boys looked down at the rocks on the ground.
“Can’t hurt trying,” Joe shouted, picking up a sizable one. He hurled the rock as hard as he could. The others standing around followed suit.
Meanwhile, a Union soldier was firing away as fast as he could. Suddenly, a hard object struck his rifle barrel. “What was that?” Another “thing” came flying, this time striking him in the shoulder. “Stones? Ahh!” A hail of the rock ‘bullets’ came raining down on him.
“Now I have seen everything!” his friend commented, picking a pebble from his hand. “Here we are, fighting our own countrymen in the middle of nowhere, and being battered by rocks!”
“Yeah, and they say Longstreet and Lee reinforced Jackson last night. This is insanity!”
Not as long as most of my excerpts, but if I put anymore…well, you know, spoilers…
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this post!
Have a Blessed Day!
Taking a short break from 10 Totally Random Facts posts and introducing another set of Historical posts I’m excited to share! I love to see how God works in the lives of ordinary people, but also in historical situations. Today, I’m gonna share one that I love, the story of Dr. Max Rossvalley, a surgeon during the War Between the States. But it starts with a boy named Charlie…
(Quotes are paraphrases)
Sometime between July 1st and July 5th of 1863, in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, a drummer of only 17 years of age was severely wounded during either the fighting or skirmishes of the unsuccessful Confederate campaign. Carried to the camp for medical attention, Charlie was turned over to a Jewish surgeon named Max L. Rossvalley. Not many truly trusted the man, since he had been a scout for the Confederate Army before. No one knows to this day if Rossvalley indeed defected or if he was still secretly spying on the Federals from the inside.
Charlie was in a great deal of pain but refused to take chloroform or brandy for the pain, having promised his mother never to touch anything that resembled alcohol. The nurse and Dr. Rossvalley both urged him to take the medication, but he steadfastly refused. He was to lose his arm and leg, and Dr. Rossvalley knew he would more than likely die of shock. The boy said, “If you won’t make me take anything, I won’t
make a scream, I promise.”
He spoke with a chaplain, asking him to give his Bible to his mother. Then he turned to the doctor and told him he was ready.
Rossvalley was not a Christian, and drinking was a problem he didn’t try to deal with at this point in his life. He “braced himself” for the operation and headed in to remove the boy’s appendages.
The only sound the boy made the entire time was when he took the edge of the pillow between his teeth and said, “Lord, please stand by me now!”
The boy asked to see the doctor a few days later, and though he didn’t want to talk to the boy, he went to see him. The boy told him about Jesus, witnessing to him. Rossvalley said he couldn’t believe in Jesus, because he was Jewish. Charlie Coulson replied that his best Friend (Jesus) was Jewish. Then he asked Dr. Rossvalley to stay by his side and watch him die, trusting in his Savior.
Later that day, however, the boy’s pleading to see the doctor was rewarded and Rossvalley came back to him. Charlie told him that he had to say something. He said, “While you were amputating my arm and leg, I asked the Lord to save you.” With those words, he passed into the Presence of his Savior. And Rossvalley had indeed seen him die.
Years later, Rossvalley met a barber, who witnessed to him and impressed him with the sign on his wall that said, “Please do not swear in this room.” When he arrived home, the man’s words haunted him, and he couldn’t get away from them. At last, Rossvalley gave his life to Christ, including his desire for alcohol.
His wife was furious and left the house with their two children. She told the children never to call him father and never allowed them to read his letters. His mother and family in Germany disowned him, holding a funeral for him.
But God does move in mysterious ways.
Dr. Rossvalley’s daughter read one of his letters and felt moved by his words. She confessed her disobedience to her mother but begged her to read the message. As a result, Mrs. Rossvalley and the children were saved, and the family was restored.
But the story doesn’t end there.
While traveling, he stopped at a Church and heard a woman give her testimony. She was dying but wanted everyone to know she was ready to go. She was so excited to see her Savior and her son, who had died at Gettysburg following a double amputation.
The Chaplain had sent her a letter and his bible and informed her of his witnessing to his Jewish doctor.
Rossvalley stood and finished the story. “I am that Jewish Doctor that your son prayed for. And his Savior is now my Savior.”
What are the chances of such a thing occurring? Pretty big when God is at work. Mrs. Coulson gave Dr. Rossvalley Charlie’s letter and Bible, which he carried with him until his death.
Have a blessed day!
Christian. American. Southern. Author.
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